Fall Caramel Apple Pie

After such a long break – we’re back with another recipe! And for the first time – it’s a pie! It’s fall. Fall = fall baking. And fall baking = pumpkin pie + apple pie. Let me also tell you, your kitchen is going to smell a m a z i n g after whipping up this caramel apple pie recipe I have for you today. It comes with all the traditional pie spices like cinnamon, all spice, etc. However, the secret ingrediant is actually ~ cardamom. This is an ingrediant all south asians swear by in their tea – which brings out the most aromatic scent and flavor. So if that’s the case , why not add it to a pie ? I had the chance to test this theory out, and to my relief, it hit just the right notes in accentuating that fall spice flavor! Here’s how you can make your very own batch of this sweet & delicious fall pie:

Ingrediants:

  • For the pie crust: 1) Pillsbury pie crust (I know ~ this is technically cheating but who doesn’t love a shortcut plus these pie crusts work just perfect) 2) 1 egg
  • For the filling: 1) 6 granny smith apples 2) 1 tsp cinnamon 3) 1 tsp allspice 4) 1 tsp ground cardamom 4) 2 tbsp cornstarch 5) 3/4 cup PC brand caramel sauce (or you can make your own) 6) pinch of salt 7) 1 cup brown sugar 8) 1 tbsp lemon juice 9) 1 tbsp butter

Instructions:

  1. Start off by rolling out the pie base into your pie tin. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator while you make your pie filling.
  2. Slice your apples into thin pieces. Add in the lemon juice – this is going to prevent the apples from browning. Combine with brown sugar, cinnamon, all spice, & cardamom. Add in the caramel sauce and toss until well coated. Finally, repeat with the corn starch and mix until well coated. Set your filling aside.
  3. Take your pie tin out of the refrigerator and coat the base of the pie with a about a teaspoon or two with cornstarch. This is going to help keep that crisp on the bottom of your pie and keep it from going soggy once we add the filling. Once coated, add your pie filling. *tip: the key here is I actually strained my apple filling BEFORE adding it to my pie. This is because overtime, your apples are going to release quite a bit of juice. This is going to a result in a soggy pie once baked. So to prevent that, let your apples sit for a bit and actually strain some of the juice before adding it to the pie base.
  4. Right before topping your pie, add a few dallops of butter to the top of your pie filling. This is going to help create that creamy center we’re going for.
  5. Once your pie filling has been added – this part is completely upto your creativity on how you’d like to top your pie! I decided to go with a classic lattice ~ but you can also cut out fall shapes , or just cover the pie whole and go for a classic star vent design.
  6. Once you’ve topped your pie, coat the top with an eggwash. I found using egg whites worked best (1 egg) for giving that perfect golden brown color.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Bake for about 40-55 min till a nice golden brown color. *Tip ~ if you notice your crust browning too fast – cover the top with tin foil. This should prevent any further burning.
  8. Serve warm and of course topped with caramel & icecream!

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Rich Decadent French Hot Chocolate

If this winter had a slogan to it, it’d be Game of Throne’s “Winter is Coming” because it only seems to be getting colder and colder with rollercoaster weather. Thankfully, that gives an excuse to warm up with a nice hot cup of cocoa, like my recipe of thick & rich French Hot Chocolate. If you’re in need of spoiling yourself on a cheat day, or staying in on a cold winter day in need of a pick-me-up this recipe does just the trick. Here’s how you can make your own batch:

Ingrediants

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup table cream
  • whipping cream to top
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk (or 2/3 cup table cream 1/3 cup 2% milk)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp espresso or coffee powder
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. On medium heat, whisk your milk, table cream, coffee powder (or espresso) & powdered sugar. The key component to this recipe is going to be the espresso/ coffee, as well as the bitter sweet chocolate. The bitter counterparted with the sweetness of the sugar is actually what’s going to enhance the flavor of the cocoa.
  2. Just before boiling, remove from heat and add milk chocolate chips & a pinch of salt. *tip: You can also use bitter sweet chocolate if you have some, I used these two as a substitute.
  3. Place the cocoa mix back onto the stove, and keep at low heat to melt the chocolate completely.
  4. Once the chocolate has completely melted, turn up the heat to medium once more. This time, let the mix come to a boil, while stirring vigourously for about 2-3 minutes. This will help thicken the hot chocolate mix.
  5. Bring the mix off the heat and let cool while you prepare the whipped cream. It’s during this time you’ll notice the cocoa mix will thicken even more. I made my whipped cream from scratch using fresh  cream and whipped using an electric mixer for about 2 min till a perfect soft peak consistency.
  6. Add a small amount of whipped cream to your cup of hot chocolate, and top as you like. You can use chocolate shavings, peppermint candy peices, I personally topped mine with caramel sauce.

And there you have it! A perfect cup of rich hot cocoa for a cold winter day. Best served warm, of course. This winter survival essential is approved by yours truly – S.

New Year’s Shortbread Cookies: White Chocolate & Cranberry 

A happy & bright new years to everyone! This year, I decided to make a special holiday shortbread cookie, dipped in white chocolate & topped with sweet cranberry bits. Perfect for a cozy start to the new year, here’s how you can make your own batch:

Ingrediants: 

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essense
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberry 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter 

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whip the butter until it’s light and fluffy in texture. This can be done using a food processor or electric mixer. 
  2. In a seperate bowl, carefully measure & sift the corn starch, flour, and icing sugar. 
  3. Add in the corn starch, flour, vanilla, and icing sugar to the butter. Blend until you see no more crumbling in the dough. 
  4. Once combined, knead dough into a large round ball, and cover with cling wrap. Chill in a freezer for about 30 min. 
  5. Once chilled, divide the dough into small round balls and place onto a ungreased cookie tray. Each cookie dough portion should be about a table spoon size each. Use a fork to flatten each cookie.
  6. Bake the cookies for 13-15 min. 
  7. While the cookies cool, begin to chop your dried cranberries into tiny bits & set aside.
  8. Next, using a microwave, melt the white chocolate chips in a small bowl, using 10 second intervals to ensure the white chocolate does not burn. This should take about 45 seconds. If the chocolate burns, use vegetable oil to smoothen the chocolate mix once more.
  9. Once the cookies have completely cooled, dip each cookie into the melted white chocolate and sprinkle with the dried cranberry bits. 
  10. Chill the cookies in a fridge for atleast 30 min and you’re ready to serve!

This sweet treat is approved by yours truly – S.

      Caramel Drizzled Bread Pudding

      It’s easy to lose track of time once school & work are back in session but the moment I see Starbucks has their Christmas special drinks out, you know the holidays are fast approaching. This means it’s time to start considering holiday food, like this delicious bread pudding. I of course couldn’t choose between chocolate chips or raisins, so why not both? Here’s how you can make your own batch:

      Ingrediants: 

      • 1/2 loaf Italian Bread
      • 1 cup Milk 
      • 1/2 cup butter
      • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
      • 2 tsp Pumpkin spice
      • 2 tsp Vanilla essence
      • 4 Eggs
      • 1/4 cup Raisins
      • 1/4 cup Chocolate chips
      • Caramel sauce
      • 1 cup Water 

      Steps: 

      1. Soak Raisins in water for 20 min
      2. Meanwhile cube bread and fill a non stick 9 inch cake pan
      3. In a medium bowl whisk eggs & sugar. 
      4. Add in butter and whisk
      5. Add in milk and whisk
      6. Add in pumpkin spice and combine all ingrediants together
      7. Pour custard mixture over the bread ensuring all of the bread is well soaked and coated. 
      8. Sprinkle raisins and chocolate chips overtop
      9. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour
      10. Once baked, drizzle with caramel sauce and serve warm. You can also serve this with vanilla icecream!

      Approved by yours truly- S. 

        Mango White Chocolate Cheesecake: The Perfect Summer Indulgence

        Two rich flavors: mango & white chocolate, perfect individually as they are combined. So why not take these two favs and combine it into one decadant cheesecake? It’s a fresh dessert perfect for summer and sure to please a crowd. Also, because you’re already dealing with intensive sweet flavors, there’s no additional sugar needed! Here’s how you can make your own batch: 

        Ingrediants

        • 1 cup mango slices
        • 1 & 1/4 cup white chocolate
        • 1 cup cream cheese 
        • 1 cup biscuits, grinded 
        • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
        • 1/2 heavy cream, whipped
        • lime juice (1 lime squeezed)

          Instructions

          1. Grease a 12 x 4 muffin pan & set aside for later use.

            2. Grind biscuits into fine crumbs using a food processor. Set aside in a bowl. 

              3. Melt the unsalted butter & add to crumbs. This is going to serve as your crust, press 1 tbsp of the crust mix into each muffin cup ensuring a flat smooth surface. Pop this into the freezer for now while you start the cake mix.

              4. To start the actual cake mix, puree the mango & lime juice until smooth. Set this aside for later use. 

              5. In a medium sized bowl, whip the heavy cream until small peaks form. Set this aside for later use.

              6. Meanwhile, its time to melt your white chocolate, which can easily be done using a microwave. Melt the chocolate using 30 second intervals, carefully mixing inbetween. I found 2 30 second intervals was enough, with 1 tsp of vegetable oil added afterwards for a smooth consistency. Remember that vegetable oil can also fix burnt chocolate incase you overheat the chocolate.

              7. Now, combine with your whipped cream & melted chocolate into one bowl. Set aside for now. 

              8. In a seperate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Once so, carefully combine with the whipped cream & white chocolate. Beat together for about 1 min until smooth. 

              9. Now, remember the mango purée you made earlier? Time to mix 2/3 of that into your cake mix. Keep 1/3 for later use, you’ll need it for the marbled effect we’re going for. 

              10. Pour your cake mix now into each individually greased muffin cup. 

              11. Now using the remaining 1/3 of the mango puree , it’s time to get artsy. Dab a tiny amount of the mango puree ontop of each cheesecake, and using a fork, move the purée in wave like motions to create a marbled effect. 

              12. Once complete, freeze the cheesecakes overnight or atleast 7 hours. Garnish with mango slices before serving & serve chilled.  

              And there you have it! Easy, creamy mango & white chocolate cheesecake. This dessert is approved by yours truly – S. 

              Bobbette & Belle : Where Bridal Meets Café

              I like to think of summer as a conversational time of year. It’s one of the few times a year people are stress free, and hopefully less bombarded with work in order to make plans. Being a student, summer is my only time to get away from most troubles during the year, finally catch up with loved ones, and go on mini adventures that add up to make the whole summer worthwhile. Amongst my many mini adventures this summer, I had a chance to visit Toronto’s Bobbette and Belle’s Queen Street East location. Special call for the ladies, you’ve got to bring your girls here because they will fall in love with how cute this café is. Or, if you and your date are into posh & classy, this is your next go to spot!


              As I did just that to catch up with the girls this summer, not even a few seconds into first walking in, we were immediately in awe by the classy rustic aesthetic that radiated from this café. Simple floral decor with fresh flowers, wooden furniture, cream-colored walls, little baking trinkets that hung from the walls, you would think you were in Paris with the romanticism that came from this café. It was the simplicity and spaciousness that tied this café together & made it that much more inviting to stay.

              Simple elegant & floral decor makes this café easy on the eyes and welcoming to all customers.
              Spacious interior setting & plenty of seating options throughout the café makes it a go to spot to catch up no matter how large the clique.

              What was also interesting about this café, was the amount of bridal related items around the shop. Floral arrangement ads alongside fresh roses set at each table, a bridal magazine rack filled with wedding gown inspiration, wedding cake designs on display to the side, this is the spot to bring your potential bridesmaids or groom to be for a cup of coffee and start planning a wedding!

              Each table was placed with floral arrangement ads, to compliment fresh bouquet centerpieces at each table. Also visible are potential wedding cake designs (right) and a bridal fashion magazine rack (left).

              Of course since wedding planning wasn’t on my own personal agenda, my eyes were more set on the menu. The café had a selection of hot & cold beverages ranging from iced teas & italian sodas to lattes & cappucinos. They also had a plentiful selection of pastries: cupcakes, macarons, cookies, brownies, tarts, danishes, the list could go on.

              Bobbette & Belle’s beverage selection, ranging from hot and cold, sizes sold in either a regular or large.
              Bobbette & Belle’s definately made a mark with their unique & exotic range of macaron flavor selection. Macarons sold $2.50 each.
              Desserts sold on site ranged from danishes, cookies, brownies, scones, tarts, pies, and cakes.
              Select flavors of the day ranged from classic chocolate, hazelnut, peanut butter, & the infamous mango passion fruit. Cupcakes each sold $3.50.

              As for me & the girls, we opted for the chocolate hazelnut, classic chocolate, and mango passion fruit cupcakes along side italian sodas as our drink choice. Yes you heard that right, mango passionfruit cupcakes, my new personal favourite! The cupcake itself was light, which is good if you’re not much of a sweet tooth and don’t want to feel too guilty after. With an overall fruity taste, topped with toasted coconut, the cupcake had a good frosting to cake ratio and the perfect flavor combination. As for the italian soda, I opted for the mango peach flavor, which paired perfectly with the mango passionfruit cupcake. The beverage itself wasn’t too sweet, and made the perfect cold refreshment for the heat that day. Thankgoodness for the quick service at this spot, because neither menu item was easy to resist.


              To wrap up this review:

              • Overall price range: $/$$$ (Price depended on select items. Items such as pastries or drinks were fairly affordable, whereas items that required ordering such as cakes were more on the pricey end.)
              • Overall food quality: 8
              • Overall experiance: 8

              So grab your girls, grab your date, and head on down to Bobbette and Belle for a coffee date this summer! You won’t be in for disappointment, only the satisfying feeling of pampering. This café eat is approved by yours truly – S.

              “He looks at you like you’re crème brûlée.”

              Kelly Moran, Ghost of a Promise

               

              Blueberry & Cardamom Infused Nicecream

              Kudos to whoever came up with the name nicecream. I mean seriously, there’s no better way (or simpler) to describe it.

              Nicecream, yet another hot topic in the world of social media and healthy eats. Who could complain though, everyone’s favourite summer treat made healthy & condensed into two simple steps?! I’m sure all about it.

              Since dessert is an easy course to experiment with, I decided to get creative on this recipe. Two of my favourites: cardamom and blueberry, fused into a fresh new flavor. The tang of the frozen blueberries combined with the pungent flavor of cardamom combine to create a refreshing new taste. An additional dash of condensed milk gives it that indulgent sweet flavor any dessert needs. Here’s how you can make your very own batch of Blueberry & Cardamom infused nicecream:

              Ingrediants:

              • 2 frozen bananas
              • 1 cup frozen blueberries
              • 1 cup yogurt
              • 3-4 pods cardamom
              • 2 tsp condensed milk
              • Ice cubes if needed

              Instructions:

              1. Break open your cardamom pods using a mort and pestol and scrape the seeds out into the blender.
              2. Blend the frozen bananas, blueberries, cardamom pod seeds, yogurt, and condensed milk for about 45 seconds until well mixed. The consistency should be thick and creamy, just like regular icecream! If the desired consistency is not obtained at first, add a 1/4 of cup of icecubes and blend once more. Serve immediately.

              And yes just like that you’re done! One batch of creamy yet light-as-air blueberry nicecream. Perfect for any hot day out in the sun or to be enjoyed at leisure. Since no additional sugars were added, you end up feeling half the guilt of regular icecream with the same great taste. Just be quick before it melts! This sweet dessert is approved by yours truly- S.

              Decadent Coconut Mango Chia Pudding

              As midterm season is in session once again for me, this means more time in the books and less time in the kitchen unfortunately. However, it also means a lot of potential distractions on my phone. So here I was, searching the wonders of the internet when I stumbled upon this dessert: Chia pudding.

               Now for someone still fairly new to the healthy side of life, I had to ask myself, what on earth is chia pudding? The dessert itself looked so indulgent, and yet it was supposedly healthy? The deeper I searched the internet, the more I saw various recipes pop up for different varieties and flavours of chia pudding. From what I could see, chia pudding could easily be taking the internet by storm just as popular as smoothie bowls are. On top of that, I was fascinated by the ability of dry chia seeds to pass as a tapioca look alike. It looked almost similar to the sweet tapioca dessert Payasam I had growing up. This was definately a cause worth investigating, and with a bit of luck, I was able to whip up a recipe to share with you guys. Here’s how you can make your own batch of healthy creamy chia pudding:

              Ingrediants: 

              • 3 tbsp chia seeds
              • 1/4 cup water or as needed
              • 1 cup coconut milk 
              • 3 drops vanilla extract 
              • 2 cups frozen mango slices
              • 1 tsp honey
              • Toppings: toasted coconut, mango slices 

              Instructions: 

              1. Since we are going for a layered look, first you need to prepare your mango layer. To do this, you simply need to prepare a puree by blending 2 cups of mango with 1/4 cup water. Set aside this mixture for later use.

              2. Next, you prepare your chia layer. To do so, mix 1 cup of coconut milk with 3 tbps of chia seeds, adding in both the honey and vanilla extract and stir well together. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, this will thicken the chia. 

              3. Once thickened, plate both mango and chia mixtures into serving jars, alternating between each layer. Store each pudding cup into a freezer and allow to chill for atleast 4 hours before serving or overnight. 

              4. Before serving, top with toasted coconut slices and mango, or any other topping of your choice. 

              And there you have it, one easy summer treat: a healthy breakfast and an indulgent dessert, what’s not to love? You’ll be satisfying both omega-3 needs and sweet tooth cravings all at once. This healthy eat is approved by yours truly- S. 

              Creamy Mango Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

              As a student, there’s only two battles you face on campus: 1) your grades of course and 2) eating healthy while you’re surrounded by fast food chains, or friends that are constantly eating out. That’s why, being at home is one of the easiest times for me to stay on track with eating healthy and clean. What better and more colorful way to do so than with a fresh Mango Pineapple smoothie bowl? Here’s how you can whip up your own batch: 

              Ingrediants: 

              • 1 Banana
              • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt
              • 1/2 cup mango, frozen
              • 1/2 cup pineapple, frozen
              • Chia seeds
              • Flax seeds
              • granola oats
              • 3-4 strawberries, sliced

                      Instructions: 

                      1. Blend your banana, greek yogurt, frozen mango, and frozen pineapple in a blender. It’s important that both the pineapple and mango are frozen, as the consistency we’re aiming for in a smoothie bowl is far more thick than a regular smoothie. Blending should take about 2-3 minutes. If the frozen fruits aren’t blending with ease, stop your blender every 20 seconds and use a spoon to stir the mixture inbetween pulses. 
                      2. Pour your smoothie mix into a serving bowl. Now here comes the fun part, topping time. With smoothie bowls the possibility of toppings are endless, but I personally decided to opt for chia seeds, flax seeds, granola oats, strawberry slices, and more mango slices. Chia and flax are both an excellent source of omega-3, so these toppings are sure to power boost your day and your metabolism!

                            And there you have it! One healthy, refreshing mango pineapple smoothie bowl. Not only are these a great breakfast, but also serve as a healthy treat for the perfect “cheat meal”. This healthy eat is approved by yours truly – S.

                            Ombré Chocolate Covered Strawberries

                            A happy father’s day to all the hardworking dads out there today on their special day! Usually when we think father’s day gifts, the typical go-to’s are ties, maybe a new shirt, or cologne, but why not bend the stereotypes with something sweet? Why not good old fashioned chocolate covered strawberries? Usually we only see these desserts come out on mothers day or valentines day, but I think fathers deserve an equally sweet treat. 

                            What really baffled me about this dessert, is that you would think it’s simple and easy to make on your first try. But was I wrong. It’s hard to imagine who could screw up chocolate covered strawberries, but apparently I can. That’s why in this post, I’ll be providing hassle-free techniques to leave you with store bought quality chocolate strawberries for half the price. And you dont have to wait till valentines day to indulge on them!

                            Ingrediants/ Materials:

                            • Strawberries
                            • Baking white chocolate
                            • Red food coloring
                            • Sprinkles to decorate
                            • Vegetable shortning
                            • Toothpicks
                            • A medium bowl
                            • A spoon to mix
                            • A stryofoam board
                            • Muffin cups

                              Instructions

                              1. Wash your strawberries. I personally washed my strawberries in salt water as its best for eliminating any germs and also enhances the taste of the strawberries. Now the most IMPORTANT STEP: MAKE SURE TO LET THE STRAWBERRIES COMPLETELY DRY.  This is crucial if the chocolate is to adhere to the strawberries. Nothing appealing about runny covered strawberries. During this same step, skewer each strawberry using a toothpick. This will make it easier later on when you’re dipping the strawberries into the melted chocolate.

                              2. After the strawberries are well dried and moisture free, its chocolate time. Using baking chocolate, break the bar up into small pieces and microwave for about 20 seconds. Its crucial that if the chocolate is not melted by this point, microwave another 20 seconds, BUT remove from heat and stir every 10 second interval so that you don’t burn the chocolate and it turns grainy. It took me about 4 intervals total to melt to a smooth consistency as shown below. If your chocolate does burn, the trick is to add a *little bit, 1 drop or 2 of vegetable shortning. This will loosen up the consistency. 

                              3. Once the chocolate is melted, its time to add your food coloring. Now in order to get the ombré effect, the key is to increase the amount of drops as you go along coating your strawberries. I started off with 4 drops of red food coloring to get a light pink color, then added 3 drops consecutively for a medium and dark shade of pink respectively, ending up with 3 different shades of pink. Take each strawberry and coat the surface with the melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle your decorative toppings onto the strawberries. You can use nuts, almonds, coconut flakes, or even cover with drizzled chocolate, but I decided to stick with good old sprinkles.

                              4. Upon completion, stick each toothpick onto the styrofoam board to dry. This will prevent any chocolate from dripping off from the strawberries. Let the strawberries air dry about 15 minutes before transferring them to a refrigerator to completely cool. I personally transferred my strawberries into individual muffin cups before transferring to the fridge making them easier to store. The chocolate should be completely hardened in about 1-2 hours and ready to serve! 

                              *If not serving immediately, store your strawberries in an air-tight container for increased freshness. 

                              And there you have it! One sweet treat sure to put a smile on the special father in your life. Or even if not father’s day, there’s a guarenteed smile after one bite of these delectable treats. This dessert is approved by yours truly- S.